Most nine-year-olds can only dream of being taken out of school, whisked away to Nepal and embarking on a three month adventure trekking the Himalayas, horse-riding, and rescuing puppies – but for Sylvie L’Hoste, this dream came true.
French-born, long-time Siem Reap resident Bruno L’Hoste took his wife, Resa, and their daughter Sylvie on a trip to Nepal, to “see something different, experience different people and culture”.
On Wednesday night he showed a selection of his 2500 photographs at a slideshow held at the International School of Siem Reap.
“I’ve been to Nepal six or seven times and I always thought it would be great when my daughter is older to be able to do a trip with her,” says L’Hoste. “It’s good exercise, interesting, a chance to see something different”.
L’Hoste sold his real estate business, took his family to the south of France for three months to visit his mother and then to Nepal.
During the trip, they spent six weeks trekking in the Annapurna region of the Himalayas, in north-central Nepal, and in Mustang.
Sylvie, he said, quickly took to the new lifestyle even when they were walking for up to eight hours a day, to heights of 4,000 metres.
“She loved it. She learnt some Nepali and she learnt that the world is not just one country,” says L’Hoste.
During the trek, the family teamed up with a stray puppy, which they carried around for two weeks before bringing it back to Siem Reap with them.
“We picked up a puppy in the middle of the trek and we walked for two weeks with it. A tiny little dog,” laughs L’Hoste.
“He would walk for one hour and then be tired. My wife decided to buy it for $5 and it cost me hundreds of course to bring it back to Cambodia.”
The photographs show remote and stunning scenery, with vivid blue skies and other-worldly, almost moon-like landscapes. Often it seems as if the family had the entire area to themselves.
The L’Hostes started in the lakeside town of Pokhara, commencing their trek from there.
“There is a ‘staircase’ all way up to top of mountain, then it’s flat,” says L’Hoste. “All the way to the maximum was 3800 metres. It gets difficult to breathe when you pass 3000, but Sylvie walked quite well. I was worried about her not being able to walk, but she did fine.”
Sylvie was also delighted to ride a horse for the first time, for a couple of days of the trek.
“She was totally excited,” says L’Hoste. “She’d always wanted to do it. She rode from Kagbeni village to Muktinath which is six or seven hours. She rode by herself, going fast, going in the river. She had a great time.”
Professional photographer L’Hoste, who has lived in Siem Reap for 17 years, is now planning his ‘next big project’ which would take him back to the mountains he loves so much;
“I am trying to put together a small group of people, to take them back to Nepal for two or three weeks trekking,” he says. “Teaching them photography and walking at the same time.
“You do walk in some of the most beautiful landscape in the world, it’s quite magnificent. I’ve done it many times and I am always happy to go back.”
L’Hoste will be exhibiting his photographs in Babushka restaurant, in the Pub St area, sometime next week.